Camp Alexander board rewriting bylaws to ensure financial issues end

Lower revenues and lack of paperwork set the stage for Camp Alexander's dire financial situation, according to board chair Brian McCracken and a statement outlining the camp's financial review as provided to KVOE News. McCracken also says the camp board is taking steps to make sure the current plight ends as soon as possible.

McCracken has attributed the camp's financial woes to rapid growth with no accountability. The camp demonstrated a loss of nearly $46,000 for last year when the reviewed financial statement report was released July 1 after starting the year with a cash balance of around $44,000. Also:

The Form 990 says contributions and grants dropped by $43,000, program service revenue dipped by $12,000 and investment income declined by $7,000 while other unspecified revenues rose by almost $7,000.

Salaries, benefits and other compensation climbed $26,000, including a $14,000 bump to Leiss after what McCracken calls a clerical error, but other expenses dropped $48,000 -- leading to a shortfall of over $36,000 for this year. The salary increase also comes when payroll taxes dipped $28,000.

Leiss was overpaid by around $5,500 for 2013 but was underpaid by around $3,100 for this year. Leiss has agreed to repay the overage, according to McCracken, who says the overpayment was not intentional and says the board has no evidence of willful wrongdoing or embezzlement being perpetrated by staff.

The Camp Alexander financial situation has come under public scrutiny over the past week after the camp board announced it was closing until further notice after unforeseen financial issues a week ago. That has since been clarified to indicate the buildings are closed but the property is open for public use and rentals are still being scheduled.

The camp announced Monday it had secured $17,000 in anonymous donations and also had a working agreement with camp staff to work together to save the camp, even though staff lost their jobs effective Aug. 18. The Jones Foundation and Emporia Community Foundation announced they were putting new conditions on donations, while the United Way of the Flint Hills and Hopkins Foundation said they were suspending or withdrawing their financial support of the camp. The quartet had donated or granted over $390,000 to the camp the past four years, and a letter provided to KVOE News and dated in June said AmeriCorps coordinator Sarah Shaw indicated concerns about the cap possibly mixing funds in ways not approved by donors -- in one case, with over $11,000 out of $15,000 donated which could not be accounted for. Also, the AmeriCorps expenses did not match what was documented in the Camp Alexander system.

McCracken says there is no record currently of funds being commingled in ways not specified by donors, and Leiss has been unavailable for comment on how grants were spent. Former part-time office manager Ashley Windle, who resigned along with Leiss in late June, has not returned an email from KVOE News seeking comment.

McCracken says the board is changing its bylaws to ensure the admitted issues over the past nine months don't happen again. More discussion on that front will continue in the next few weeks.

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